JAPAN Ultrabox of “Quiet Life” Finally Scheduled for March 2021

BMG | UK | LP + 3xCD [+ CD] | 2021

For over a year now, advance word had been leaking out about a Boxed Set Of God version of JAPAN’s seminal “Quiet Life” album of game-changing import. Beginning in late 2019 and pointing to an early 2020 release date; the new year came and went as Covid-19 impacted the entire world, much less the music industry. The hard part is the remastering. It’s the one factor most affected by lockdown and social distancing. But now it’s on track for a real street date.

On Match 5th, the new mastering of “Quiet Life” will consist of a single CD of the straight album, a new LP, and where our attention is going… to an ultrabox with the LP and a 3xCD edition in a 12″x12″ presentation box as shown above. What’s on tap? I’m glad you asked.

LP – Quiet Life


1. Quiet Life (2020 Remaster)
2. Fall In Love With Me (2020 Remaster)
3. Despair (2020 Remaster)
4. In Vogue (2020 Remaster)

1. Halloween (2020 Remaster)
2. All Tomorrows Parties (2020 Remaster)
3. Alien (2020 Remaster)
4. The Other Side of Life (2020 Remaster)

CD1 – Quiet Life

  1. Quiet Life (2020 Remaster)
  2. Fall In Love With Me (2020 Remaster)
  3. Despair (2020 Remaster)
  4. In Vogue (2020 Remaster)
  5. Halloween (2020 Remaster)
  6. All Tomorrows Parties (2020 Remaster)
  7. Alien (2020 Remaster)
  8. The Other Side of Life (2020 Remaster)

CD2 – A Quieter Life: Alternative Mixes + Rarities

  1. European Son (Steve Nye 7” Remix 1982)
  2. Life In Tokyo (Steve Nye 7” Special Remix 1982)
  3. Quiet Life (Original German 7” Mix 1980)
  4. I Second That Emotion (Steve Nye 7” Remix 1982)
  5. All Tomorrow’s Parties (Steve Nye 7” Remix Version 1983)
  6. European Son (John Punter 12” Mix 1980)
  7. Life In Tokyo (Steve Nye 12” Special Remix Version 1982)
  8. I Second That Emotion (Steve Nye 12” Remix Version 1982)
  9. All Tomorrow’s Parties (Steve Nye 12” Remix Version 1983)
  10. European Son (Steve Nye 12” Remix Version 1982)
  11. Quiet Life (Japanese 7” Mix 1980)
  12. A Foreign Place
  13. All Tomorrow’s Parties (John Punter 7” Mix 1979)
  14. Life In Tokyo (Theme Giorgio Moroder Version 1979)*
  15. Deviation (Live In Japan)
  16. Obscure Alternatives (Live In Japan)
  17. In Vogue (Live In Japan)
  18. Sometimes I Feel So Low (Live In Japan)

CD3 – Live At The Budokan March 27, 1980

  1. Intro
  2. Alien
  3. …Rhodesia
  4. Quiet Life
  5. Fall In Love With Me
  6. Deviation
  7. All Tomorrow’s Parties
  8. Obscure Alternatives
  9. In Vogue
  10. Life In Tokyo
  11. Halloween
  12. Sometimes I Feel So Low
  13. Communist China
  14. Adolescent Sex
  15. I Second That Emotion
  16. Automatic Gun
  • “Life In Tokyo” CD of versions
  1. Life In Tokyo (Original 7” Mix 1979)
  2. Life In Tokyo (Original 7” Mix Part 2 1979)
  3. Life In Tokyo (Original 12” Version 1979)
  4. Life In Tokyo (‘Assemblage’ 7” Remix 1981)
  5. Life In Tokyo (‘Assemblage’ 12” Remix 1981)
  6. Life In Tokyo (Steve Nye 7″ Special Remix 1982)
  7. Life In Tokyo (Steve Nye 12″ Special Remix Version 1982)
  8. Life In Tokyo (Steve Nye Theme 1982)
  9. Life In Tokyo (Steve Nye Theme ‘Correct Pitch’ 1982)

If you’re like me, then the full box is where it’s at. The LP and single and LP are available separately if all you want is the album in physical form. The box naggingly contains the LP as well as three CDs, so format redundancy is baked in to the proposition. Personally, I’ve not had an LP of “Quiet Life” since 1986 and my discovery of the JPN 1st CD pressing of this amazing title in the bins of Digital Sounds; the futuristic, mid-80s CD only music store in Central Florida.

The second CD is where things heat up. There are three mixes of “European Son,” two mixes of “Quiet Life,” three mixes of “Life In Tokyo,” two of “I Second That Emotion,” three of “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” and the “Live In Japan” EP with the non-LP B-side, ‘A Foreign Place.” I have made a my own box of JAPAN rarities in 2009, and all of these songs are in that box, but two tracks from this period that are missing here. The garden variety 7″ UK mixes of “European Son” and “I Second That Emotion.” All of the alternate mixes are here.

Then there’s a third CD of a live concert in Japan from 1980, but this concert was a little tricky. It was taken from a radio broadcast, but the show was recorded from within the audience, like typical bootlegs. In other words, not a soundboard show. Not a mobile truck show. This means that punters in proximity possibly predominate the proceedings. This is troubling considering that their producer John Punter himself mixed their live shows of this period; so enamored was he of their performance quality.

Until I heard of the provenance of this live recording, I would have been strongly considering this for purchase. Now, I am less inclined to drop the considerable coin necessary for this box. It would set me back $66.50 at BurningShed.com [your home for all things JAPAN] not counting the 2-3 lbs of shipping from the UK. Ouch. But that’s not the only game in town.

There’s an official JAPAN webstore set up at Townsend Music [where else?] to retail this direct from the UK and they have a further bait for a direct sale from the band. Buyers who opt for the official webstore will get a 4th CD with their box. A 9-track “EP” with every mix of “Life In Tokyo!” In other words, “Life In Tokyo” the Motion Picture. I have almost all of these in my box as well. I’m only missing the “Life In Tokyo Theme [corrected pitch version]” but that’s really splitting hairs. I have a computer so I can correct the pitch of the bizarre slowed down instrumental mix on my own if need be. But it IS thorough, and we applaud such things here @PPM! Of course, my box has all manner of earlier and later rarities, being comprehensive, but that’s not the scope of this one. This is all about the “Quiet Life.” But such attention to detail comes with a price, the official exclusive store box is priced at $89, so one has to really want that “Life In Tokyo” disc badly. As that’s $89 plus UK shipping for 2-3 lbs.

I might have gone for the box at another vendor for the live album in a different world where there were higher quality recordings at play. It’s hard to believe that Punter didn’t record the shows in reasonably high quality, but he’s been consulted for this box, along with Rob Dean and it is what it is. I can admire this from afar but I can’t pony up three figures for this right now… or even later on. The album and the material on disc two [and four] is crucial, and if you don’t already have a plethora of JAPAN material in your own Record Cell, then you should dig deep and luxuriate in this game-changing album of delightful despair, by clicking below.

post-punk monk buy button

-30-

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in BSOG, Core Collection, New Romantic, Records I Used To Own, Want List and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to JAPAN Ultrabox of “Quiet Life” Finally Scheduled for March 2021

  1. Steve Shafer says:

    Agh! I really want some of this, but not all of it. Why can’t we just order a la carte?!

    (Thanks for us all know that it is finally available!)

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Steve Shafer – Yeah, mandatory vinyl is a drag. Weirdly enough, the official store also had A combo pack with the ultrabox, the LP, and the CD; all three packages together for $125 while the $89 box still had the CD and LP in it. Don’t know what the point was there!

      Like

  2. negative1ne says:

    hi mr monk,

    i only have this album (the remastered cd), and my favorite song from them is ‘quiet life’, but there is no real extended mix of that unfortunately.

    i made my own version, using psuedo-instrumental of it, its on ewwwtube if you look for it. i’m not a ultra fan, so i will just watch other people buy, and maybe listen to the other tracks and mixes on it at some point.

    later
    -1

    Like

  3. SimonH says:

    I’ve flip flopped over this for most of the reasons you mention. A poor quality live album would be a real downer.
    I did ask Japan expert Paul Rymer about the main album mastering in the SDE comments, from previous comments I trust his ears! He indicated it’s excellent.
    So if someone did only want that I suppose the single cd is the way to go… I broke though and preordered it, may still cancel though as the vinyl, live album issues and price are annoying me!
    Really for me I’d have preferred a less flashing nicely priced Cherry Red release.

    Like

  4. Richard Anvil says:

    Being in the UK I have ordered it where postage cost is just a pound (sorry to rub it in). It’s going to be weird having a new vinyl copy when I still have my original vinyl from 1982. Shame to hear the gig is an audience based recording, like last years Live from the Budokan, which was pretty poor. I’ve met Paul Rymer and he really is the expert on all things Japan so I trust his opinion. I believe the prior 2006 release was remastered but still with a lot of tape hiss in places so I hope this is cleaner. I’ll let you know what it’s like once it arrives in March.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Richard Anvil – I used to have the UK EMI/FAME budget pressing I bought in 1982 as well. Got rid of it [as was policy back then] when I got the JPN CD in 1986. I don’t mind tape hiss on a CD. That’s part of the “grain” of the recording to me. If I wanted to I could NR the tape hiss on my copy in Audition, I suppose. Noise reduction is getting smarter and better over the years with my aged ears unable to detect much in the way of objectionable artifacts when used with care. And yes, Paul Rymer is very helpful to the JAPAN fan community! I could not have made my BSOG without his careful analysis. All of those remixes still make my brain sweat trying to sort them out!

      Like

  5. Ade.W says:

    Oh no, here we go again! Well I’ve lived with the CD and LP this long so It’s another no from me. Don’t get me wrong, I buy loads of stuff but just refuse to get sucked into this “buying all the same tracks again and again and again. But hey! that’s just me.

    Like

  6. slur says:

    Luckily there’s really nothing to special I need here, they didn’t even update the mediocre artwork for this issue. A wasted opportunity imho.

    Like

  7. Gavin says:

    I’m afraid its a NO from me-I have several copies already,plus an amazing 36-track version of “Assemblage” which contains nearly everything on this set apart from the live album.
    I never play multiple versions of songs and tend to stick with the one I prefer most.

    Paul Rymer and I DJ’d many Japan nights together in London when I was resident there-plus the Mick Karn benfit night and he was often on the same roster as me at other club nights such as the incredible “Electric Dreams”,now in its 26th year or so (I was a guest DJ from the start)

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – I hear you. That JPN 2xCD “Assemblage” is fine goods. I myself ended up with a copy of the JPN 2xCD of “The Singles” in addition to many Virgin/Hansa 12″ers, compilations, and 7″ers. But for one without our resources, it should be a must-buy.

      Paul Rymer’s Nightporter website is a must-see JAPAN resource for fans! I might have gone blind …or mad had I not had access to it when I was compiling my tidy 3xCD JAPAN BSOG. And I think my own set is the only one with the “Virgin Video Identity Jingle.” Old UK hands who bought Virgin Video VHS in the UK in the 80s will remember that one!

      Like

  8. Shelf says:

    As always, thanks for the info and your insights, Monk.

    Multi-format box sets are both financially and logistically advantageous to labels; however, from a consumer standpoint, they are frustrating and insulting. What percentage of collectors want both a vinyl AND CD copy of the same album?

    As noted by Monk and others, the majority of the edits, remixes and lone B-side present on CD 2 are available on the 1996 Japanese collection, “The Singles.” Despite some of the material on that release being sourced from vinyl, the sound quality is consistently exceptional. The “Live In Japan” EP is also available on prior releases.

    The concert disc having been sourced from an audience recording is very disappointing – for the money being asked, only a soundboard tape is acceptable.

    Depending on your perspective, the “Life In Tokyo” bonus CD single is either a dream come true or an exercise in excess. Again, most of those versions appear on “The Singles.” Were it an option, I would pay $15 to purchase just that CD, but there is a caveat. The Moroder ‘Special Remix’ from the 1982 cassette reissue of “Assemblage” was promised on the 2004 remaster of that compilation, but due to an error, a different version was included. While the correct “Assemblage” remix does appear on the 2006 edition, the last few seconds are cut off and the track ends abruptly. The Moroder ‘Special Remix’ is also on the 2009 budget compilation “The Collection,” but faded early to mask the abrupt ending present on the 2006 “Assemblage” CD, suggesting that the master tape is damaged. I would be surprised if this issue is corrected on the new “Life In Tokyo” CD single.

    Finally, where’s a DVD of promotional videos and TV performances from that period? Might be a short presentation, but would be completely appropriate and appreciated.

    Despite being a huge fan of Japan, I have to give this box set a hard pass – not enough value for money, and I refuse to be forced into buying a format that I don’t want and can’t even play. I’m happy with the 2001 BMG-Camden CD of “Quiet Life,” which sounds great and includes a couple of bonus tracks, to boot.

    Like

  9. SimonH says:

    Oh boy, everyone has articulated all my reservations too well! Cancelled.
    I know it makes sense but I will miss admiring this on the coffee table…
    But I have ordered the single cd for the new master, clearly I’m beyond help:)

    Like

  10. Christopher Merritt says:

    Ordered only as I don’t have this on cd or vinyl yet – but yes, the price is highway robbery…

    Like

  11. JT says:

    Yup, gotta agree with everyone else. Those that know me are aware that Japan are a top-five band for me, and have been for thirty-some years, but there’s nothing important here that I don’t have on The Singles or the expanded Assemblage. If the mastering is *astounding* I’d consider it, but that’s asking for quite a bit these days.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – There is some discussion that some tracks on “The Singles” was mastered from vinyl by BMG Japan. Though done with all of the mid-late 90s care inherent in such endeavors. I never got the expanded “Assemblage” since I had already invested a bit in “The Singles.” Does anyone [Paul Rymer to the whote courtesy phone, please] know if the remixed single material has ever manifested on master tapes for CD sourcing yet? That might make a difference, but no one is talking.

      Like

  12. Richard Stephen Pievaitis says:

    Hello Monk,
    Sure I’m very late to the party here but I’ve just bought the 180gm half speed remastered black vinyl album but do you have any idea exactly who and where was the remastering done by ?
    As we all know Tin Drum and Polaroids were both done by the absolute half speed expert Miles Showell at Abbey Road Room 30.
    But nowhere on the outer or inner sleeve or on Discogs of anywhere does it actually say who the half speed remastering guy or gal was ? Now it also doesn’t sound like a top notch half speed remaster either. Tin Drum, the 2x 45rpm version anyway, sounds just amazing. This does not ?
    Have we been told an untruth and why is there nothing as to who did it?
    This, along with the audience bootleg concert and the very tiny print at the bottom of the rear sleeve saying ” manufactured in Poland” makes me a little concerned. Please note I mean no offence to our Po!ish friends, well mine anyway, I am of Lithuanian parentage. It’s just not a well known area of half speed mastering experts is it really ? But I might be wrong there !
    Please help as I am very concerned that something is amiss here, well don’t you ?
    My 1980 vinyl version sounds better than this, so ????????

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Richard Stephen Pievaitis – Welcome to the comments! As you may be aware, I have been following the turmoil about the “Quiet Life” ultrabox on the Steve Hofmann Music Forum and the way this release has unfolded had been most vexing. The way that Abbey Road was teased as a half-speed mastering source for the new LP only to deliver provenance that was a mystery to the market was a poor move that understandably has buyers in an uproar. You, I, and the lamp post know that if Abbey Road had actually created a half-speed master for the LP then it would be a bold selling point instead of being buried information. That no mastering source is listed is very troubling. Almost all of the chatter on this release is negative.

      I sat this box out due to a combination of finite music budget needed elsewhere, and satisfaction with my already adequate JAPAN collection. So I am on the outside looking in here. I hope that the real story of the obscured mastering provenance will eventually be known. When we are being asked to spend this much on cherished albums [“Quiet Life” is certainly that] we deserve to know all of the facts before committing enough money to eat for a week.

      Like

      • Richard Stephen Pievaitis says:

        Thanks Monk, no I wasn’t aware of the ongoing debate over at Hoffman’s site. So I’ll go over and see what’s new, thanks.
        I knew the deluxe box wasn’t for me as I’m not a great fan of that kind of extra, bonus material whatever you want to call it, just give me the official great sounding release as it was, right? So for me I decided that because the half speed Miles Showell Tin Drum was so good this would be too and I did seem to recall Abbey Road being mentioned in pre release hype.
        My original 1980 vinyl was getting a bit past it so why not treat myself! As soon as the black vinyl version arrived I noticed a distinct lack of credits, then that “made in Poland” text, a quick check on Discogs and alarm bells start ringing. I bought it from Amazon . It just does not sound like my other half speeders e.g. Tin Drum, recent Stones, recent Banshees etc etc. There is a certain sound that certainly Miles gets and this just ain’t it !
        Thanks for replying.I
        Richard

        Like

  13. JT says:

    I have heard the new remaster of Quiet Life. I have only listened closely to the album so far, not the live material or the remixes disc.

    Did a critical comparison of the basic album compared no less than four other CD versions (1994, 2001, and the 2004/2011 releases which sound like the same master to me). This new one is (by a fair margin) the most compressed. It doesn’t sound bad, the EQ brings a certain punch and clarity along with a little more low end to make it more contemporary, but the dynamic range purists out there will want to avoid this release (I am not one; as a pro audio engineer for 30+ years, I advocate SOME compression can sound good, but I am of course a hater of hard-core brickwallling).

    The 2001 and 2004/2011 masters were compressed a little, but not badly. This new release was an opportunity to open these tracks up a little, not make them worse. Seriously, why are mastering engineers still being pressured to overcompress in 2021? With the LUFS standard firmly in place and with streaming companies (who account for a reported 80% of all music consumption) doing LUFS normalization of the tracks they play, there is NO need for the so-called loudness wars to continue.

    The under-discussed issue of master tapes stretching over the years (which I see on almost all remastered versions of older material) is present here too (not a surprise), so all songs on this release are slightly longer (and subsequently slightly flatter in pitch) than the 2004/2011 version, which is longer and flatter than 2001…….

    Honestly, my 1994 Hansa CD still sounds best to me, with 2004/2011 coming in second (2001 isn’t bad, but that’s the one with the wrong version of the title track on the album). Really, none of the masters of this album are disasters, and none are radical changes to previous versions. So now it’s down to bonus tracks… a whole other quagmire.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – Thanks for the penetrating analysis of the new CD master of “Quiet Life.” Your ears are my guide to this release. You make a valid point about slight compression below the pain threshold being acceptable. Alchemy Mastering was behind the half-speed mastered LP in this new “Quiet Life” release, so I will assume [careful there!] that they were also responsible for the CD as well. They were also the hands on the latest “Vienna” mastering, and they seem to think that a little compression is okay. Which I agreed with in my review of that album.

      As for the tape stretching issue, you have mentioned this to me before, and as you say, this effect is under-reported. What would you do to circumvent this issue since it is mechanical in nature? We could time dilate the new masterings to match the old one’s exactly but what would the fallout of undesirable artifacts be? Thinking way outside of the box, a judicious application of autotune® might address the flatness issue without adjusting the speed and tempo any.

      At any rate, I am glad to have the 1986 Japanese mastering of “Quiet Life” on CD, which was the first I came across in the wild. This was back at Digital Sounds, the futuristic CD-only store of Altamonte Springs, Florida, in the mid-80s where Ye Not-So-Olde Monk spent his tiny paychecks of the era in full at with his partner in musical crime, The RAHB!

      Like

  14. JT says:

    >What would you do to circumvent this issue since it is mechanical in nature?

    All DAWs these days have time dilation / expansion built right in. Some have the option to include/exclude pitch shifts that would naturally be related to the time change. But as you supposed, there are artifacts. However, in this case we’re generally looking at crunching a 3 to 5 minute song by something like 200ms to 500ms (.2 to .5 second), so the change is not major and we’d probably get away with it. Pitch correction applications (Autotune and its competitors) wouldn’t help, because they constantly monitor pitch and make real-time adjustments as needed. So that would make things worse. Also, those tend to work best on solo, monophonic instruments (like a vocal, bass line, or trumpet, for example, but not guitar chords or a whole mix of a band). But again, all DAWs have the ability to adjust the pitch of an entire track, usually by 100th of a semi-tone increments (called ‘cents’), so that would be an easy fix. Really, for all I know, mastering engineers may be fixing the pitch but leaving the timing alone in some cases already.

    Anyway, the time and pitch differences being discussed are actually fairly minimal, but they occur on basically all re- and re-re-masters that I’ve compared (a few dozen). The cause *may* be tape stretching, but it may also be an artifact of baking old tapes, or just various tape machines being out of calibration (but the definite consistency of the problem leads me to doubt that all of the world’s tape machines are slowing down at more or less the same rate).

    That’s why my main concern is less about a tiny pitch issue that most people won’t hear, and more about it being an indicator of the bigger problem of the tape just wearing out, which can cause degradation in the overall audio signal, loss of high frequencies, increase in noise floor, and possibly harmonic distortion.

    If I were being asked to remaster something like Quiet Life, I’d ask for the digital transfer of the tape that was made for the 2001 remaster. That digital file, before the mastering engineers touched it, should be a raw transfer from a tape 20 years newer than the most recent version, and therefore from a tape in better condition. Then I could use modern mastering techniques to fine tune the music from there. In the case of some 1980s and 1990s transfers, the A/D converters weren’t up to today’s standards, so I wouldn’t want a transfer that old. And, it would probably be on DAT, not a WAV or AIFF file, so there’s the whole problem of rotting DATs do deal with. But at some point the converters got as good as they’re gonna get, while the quality of the old analog tapes continued to erode. So from some fuzzy point forward (late 1990s / early 2000s, perhaps), I’d rather start with a preexisting raw transfer than with than a fresh one!

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – We appreciate the engineering perspective you bring, as ever, to the table! I can remember the differences that even I could hear when I digitized some Simple Minds 7” mixes with that Digidesign Audiomedia III card you set me up with in the late 90s and compared the results to Virgin’s first stab at the LP versions of those “Sons + Fascination” tracks. Even coming from vinyl instead of a master tape, my takes sounded so much fuller as compared to a dawn of time A/D transfer! Thinking back, it’s hard to believe we ever used digital audio technology [which dates back to the mid 70s] without computers to process the signal. But computers weren’t powerful enough until the mid 80s.

      Like

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